Message from Chari Empis

Image of founding Principal Chari Empis giving a speech
Chari Empis, founding Principal of OIS

This is my own perspective of a simple and beautiful story…

In the Summer of 2009, I was supposed to move abroad to restructure schools and I had difficulties in choosing where to go.

My husband, José Abecassis Empis, told me then that instead of moving countries, I had a duty towards the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) and this country, Portugal, not to leave unfinished work, in implementing “IB for all” schools. He would be helping me according to his own beliefs.

Opening the School

With a group of friends who shared the same dream about “IB for all” schools, in six months we managed to open Oeiras International School (OIS), then housed in temporary facilities at the Fundição de Oeiras, in the center of the town.

From March to September 2010, an incredible amount of work was done by the OIS community: the IBO staff, Oeiras Municipality, OIS founder associates (soon to be more than 20) and prospective teachers, staff, parents and students.

A New International School in Portugal

All are recognized on different boards on the walls of the main entrance at the OIS palace. We modelled the school on something that didn’t yet exist in Portugal:

  • United World College of the Atlantic (UWC Atlantic College) in Wales, and its Duke of Edinburgh Awards full programs
  • Hogwarts, from Harry Potter books, with a strong focus on Houses, where students have a say and can influence the school management about the mission, vision and values of the school.

“Sapere Aude” in Latin, meaning the pleasure of learning, was taken as the school’s motto and the four school Houses became:

  • João Baptista, after the Dutch pirate who built in the XVII century what is currently the OIS Palace.
  • Vulpes, the fox running in the OIS woods.
  • Kingfisher, the little bird spotted flying over the Barcarena river.
  • Phantom, after the OIS ghost who makes a terrible noise in the dungeons at night.

Over the last 10 years, OIS became a real IB for all school and gained the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) and IBO accreditations for the four programmes:

  • Primary Years Programme (PYP)
  • Middle Years Programme (MYP)
  • Diploma Programme (DP). This accreditation was granted before school started on September 1, 2010
  • Careers (vocational) Programme (CP)

Students of different abilities and types of intelligence love attending the school. Reality has surpassed the founders’ dreams! Finally, we need to thank our Parents Clubs that over the years have supported OIS’ growth by complementing school initiatives, such as the building of the Memorial Gardens, where we honor our past.

Chari Empis, 3/6/2021

Vice-Chair of the General Assembly